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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

166
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
CHA
fitted to preside over a salon as was, for instance, Princes Nazli, when twenty years ago she alone ventured to ope her house to a small circle of male visitors. Incroetsin opportunities of European travel, and even the^closo cor tact maintained by many Egyptians of the better elasse who are of Turkish origin with Constantinople, where th revolution of 1908 produced a great feminist ferxnenl imported new ideas and new aspirations into the Egyptia: hareem. There was not, until recently, any breaoli o: a large scale with the old traditions, but they no longe inspired the same unquestioning reverence.
The fellaheen could never seek to impose similar rostric tions on their womenkind, for girls and grown-up worne] have to go out and do their share—and a very Ixeav; share—of work in the fields. The fellah indeed too oftei treats them as mere beasts of burden, and whilst) th husband jogs along at his ease on a donkey, the "wif< toils behind him carrying a big load on her head. ISTover theless, in most cases, she rules in her own home, especially if, as is often the case, she develops considerable bu.slnes capacity. It is she who generally markets all sue! produce as cheese, milk, eggs, etc., and she even beeomei an expert in the sale of cotton. In an interesting jpape: read before the Cairo Geographical Society two years ago Sir William Willcocks has described how many wive! of fellaheen have profited by the rising ticlo o: agricultural prosperity to start a little money-lending on their own account, and not infrequently to -fchei] husbands. In one well-to-do village where the value o. the land held by the fellaheen amounted to about a q*u.£Lrte] of a million sterling, mostly in quite small holdings, anc they had cleared off the whole of their indebtedness excepl £25,000, some 80 per cent, of the women had small sums of money out on loan, and their husbands were found tc have borrowed from them altogether no less than £0,000 and often at very high rates of interest. The profi-fcs al least remain in the family instead of going into the poo feet g of Greek and Coptic usurers, and the woman's holdhave gone far to remove the sense of bitterness. After all the Syrian expedition would have been scarcely feasible without Egyptian labour and Egyptian supplies, and some expression of gratitude would not have marred its glory. But the saving word was never spoken ; and the payments due from the military authorities continued to lag for months behind, and the ugly past                    towns, the Central Government merely making certain